The COVID-19 pandemic brought an abrupt end to an era of relative prosperity in the United States. After years of steady economic expansion and job growth, the U.S. poverty rate stood at 12.3% in 2019 — its lowest level in over a decade and a half.
This year, between May and October alone, the number of Americans living below the poverty line spiked by an estimated 8 million, according to researchers at Columbia University.
While the economic fallout tied to the COVID-19 pandemic will likely drive up the poverty rate nationwide, there are some cities where residents are far less likely to live in poverty than the typical American.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the share of residents living below the poverty line in all 384 U.S. metro areas to identify the city with the lowest poverty rate. In the case of a tie among the finalists, the metro area with a higher median household income ranked higher. In each of the metro areas among the finalists, the poverty rate is 9.2% or lower. For reference, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sets the official poverty threshold at an annual income of no more than approximately $26,000 for a family of four.
Data on poverty, median household income, and SNAP recipiency are all from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. SNAP is the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Seasonally adjusted October, 2020 unemployment rates are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Not only do the cities on the finalist’s list have lower than average poverty rates, they also tend to have relatively high incomes overall. Residents in these cities are therefore less likely to depend on government assistance programs like SNAP — both relative to the rest of the state and the U.S. as a whole.
Barnstable Town, MA has the lowest poverty rate of any city measured at 5.2%, compared to the Massachusetts figure of 9.4%. As of October 2020, the jobless rate was 7.9% against a Massachusetts figure of 7.4%. The households receiving SNAP benefits are 5.2% of the total compared to the Massachusetts number of 11.2%. The median household income for the city was $85,042 compared to a Massachusetts figure of $85,843.
Click here to see the cities with the lowest poverty rates.
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